Launches Update, Defines Version 2.0

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2003-10-01 Print this article Print

The open source productivity suite received a face lift and performance tweaks. The group is refining the feature set due in the next major release. on Wednesday released the latest version of its open-source competitor to Microsoft Office as it heads toward a major architectural revamp by early 2005. The 1.1, available now for Linux, Windows and Sun Solaris, offers a more modern look-and-feel, faster load times, native export to more file formats and improved compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats.
The latest update comes about a year and a half after the project put out its first release of the productivity suite, which includes such applications as a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation creator.
Microsoft itself is prepping its own Microsoft Office release, expected in late October. With Version 1.1, has improved the user interface to better resemble the smooth textures and colors users are accustomed to in Windows and Mac applications, said Sam Hiser, marketing project lead. "One of criticisms of 1.0 was that it was rough around the edges," Hiser said. "The window just looked like a Unix application, and Windows users are used to nice rounded edges. 1.1 now looks a lot more like a modern application, and it responds like a modern application." Along with the user interface brush up, the release boosts load times. While there is no average load time improvement Hiser could point to, he said loads that took 20 second to 30 seconds commonly have been reduced to about 5 seconds. The release also adds native support for exporting Adobe Acrobat and Macromedia Flash files. From any application in the suite, users can export their work directly into an Acrobat file. The same can be done for Flash but only from the drawings and presentations. The latest features are part of OpenOffice.orgs evolution toward its next full release, Version 2.0, that is slated for the first quarter of 2005. Users can expect 2.0 to build greatly on the user interface improvements in 1.1 as the open-source project pushes to widen its base of users, Hiser said. has had 20 million downloads since its launch, but Hiser said recognition among less technical users remains low. "After 2.0, were going to get on a new plateau of public awareness and Linux will too," he said. One likely addition is a database application similar to Microsoft Access that provides a simple user interface for accessing and manipulating data, Hiser said. The focus of the Version 2.0 release also will be on usability, such as on making style sheets and templates even easier to use; on pushing greater programmability so more add-on applications can be integrated with the suite; and greater interoperability with Microsoft Office. Discuss this in the eWEEK forum.
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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